• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest
JAN
20
3 YEARS

'Sweet Home Alabama's' Paige Duke Talks Tackling the Nude Photo Controversy Head-On

CMT's new bachelorette tells THR why she decided to be open about the controversy that led to losing her NASCAR job on the season premiere.

Paige Duke Miss Sprint Cups - P 2012
Getty Images

Most people would probably avoid dealing with a controversy like the one CMT’s Sweet Home Alabama star Paige Duke went through last year when nude photos of her surfaced on the internet and ultimately led to losing her job as NASCAR’s Miss Sprint Cup.

VIDEO: 'Sweet Home Alabama' Season 3: NASCAR's Paige Duke Hunts Down Mr. Right

But instead of acting as if it never happened on the reality dating show, the 25-year-old addressed it on the season premiere last week. “I just wanted to get it out there right away,” Duke tells The Hollywood Reporter.

“Because when people think you’re hiding something or you’re embarrassed about something, that’s when people can use it to hurt you,” she adds. “And so, I wanted to address it right away so there would be no questions, nobody could say anything about it. OK, I’ll go ahead and say it.”

And while she calls that period “probably the worst week of my life,” Duke has another important personal reason for being open about what happened.

“Parents started writing to me and saying, ‘Thank you for sharing your story, I shared this with my daughter,’ or girls would say, ‘Thank you, I almost did something like this and because of your story, I’m not going to do it.’ So that just helped me get through it,” she says. “Basically, when you tackle something head-on, that’s just the best way to deal with things.”

PHOTOS: CMT Awards Red Carpet

Going on the show was a big move for her in healing from that betrayal. Duke says that she lost a lot of her ability to trust men and the show gave her the chance to change that.

“I just told the producers I wanted to find someone who made me feel again,” she says. “I haven’t had a relationship in probably three years and felt like I was stronger on my own. Obviously, when I fall, I fall pretty hard and the guy in the past that put the pictures out there, he had so much control over me and I thought I was in love and I wasn’t. But, I just didn’t want to give someone that power to hurt me again, so I’ve been content. I haven’t been happy, but I just wanted to find someone who made me feel something.”

And apparently, it worked. Duke says that she found Mr. Right among the 22 bachelors on the show and while they have to stay apart for now so as not to spoil the television show, she isn’t bothered by the separation.

“I think they may arrange a few weekends or something where we can see each other, which will be very nice, but it’s not as hard as I thought it would be,” Duke says. “It’s so easy. Love, I guess is supposed to be easy when it’s real, when it happens you just connect.”

“So, we can Skype, of course, so I’m always on my Skype, I guess, and talk on the phone and texting each other, just makes you feel close,” she continues. “But, it’s not that bad honestly. And it’s fun to watch the show and to know how I was feeling and how he was feeling.”

Sweet Home Alabama airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on CMT.

Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro